WWE SmackDown results, recap, grades: Money in the Bank build starts with gusto

The build for the upcoming Money in the Bank pay-per-view began Monday night on Raw with participants qualifying for the men's and women's ladder matches, and it continued on Tuesday with SmackDown Live beginning the build from its end.

Two men and one woman from the blue brand earned their way into their respective ladder matches, and we also received an answer as to whether the issues between WWE champion AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are anywhere close to concluding.

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SmackDown adds to Money in the Bank 

The Miz def. Jeff Hardy via pinfall: In a long, entertaining opening match following a promo from general manager Paige, the former intercontinental champion earned the win over the current United States champion. The finish was just as entertaining as the match itself. Hardy landed the Swanton Bomb on The Miz, but just when he thought he had the easy cover from there, Miz surprised Hardy with a crucifix pinning combination to snag the victory. 

Charlotte Flair def. Peyton Royce via submission: While Billie Kay did what she could from the outside to ensure her IIconics partner could steal the win, Flair advanced to the women's Money in the Bank ladder match after slapping on the Figure Eight while Royce quickly tapped. 

Rusev def. Daniel Bryan via pinfall: In what will undoubtedly come as a shock to many, Rusev got the clean 1-2-3 to advance after a Machka Kick to the head of Bryan. All throughout the match they were playing up the beatings Bryan has endured in recent weeks at the hands of Big Cass, and they played those up all the way to the stunning clean finish. 

Without question, the best match of the night was the opening bout that showcased Hardy and Miz. And in that one, it was absolutely the right choice to have Miz, who just continuously puts on good matches as of late, in the ladder match as he begins to penetrate the main event scene on SmackDown. Flair's win over Royce wasn't maybe as exciting as it could have been, and while you could argue the victory would have been more beneficial for Royce, at least one-half of The IIconics still has the chance to earn a spot in the match in Kay. As for Bryan's loss ... I probably don't hate it as much as everyone else might. They're still continuing the story with Cass, and quite frankly, he doesn't need the Money in the Bank rub at this point for any reason whatsoever. Match could have been better, overall, but I didn't  particularly hate the Rusev nod here. Grade: B+

AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura will continue

Neither the WWE champion Styles nor Nakamura competed in action during this week's SmackDown, but it was made abundantly clear these two aren't done with each other. Nakamura was the first to cut a backstage promo, and once again he knocked it out of the park with his heel character. Renee Young pressed him in regards to no longer being able to speak English, and in one hilarious moment, Nakamura had the pun of the night when he proclaimed that Styles is "nuts." He was the first to reveal his business with the WWE champion was not over just yet. 

Later in the show, Styles -- still sporting a nasty bruise on his cheek from the chair accident at Backlash -- was offered a chance at a rebuttal. The champ admitted that he stooped to Nakamura's level on Sunday, but he did what he had to do. He agreed that the two are not done just yet after the controversial finish from Sunday, and if Nakamura has the guts to get back in the ring with him, he;ll finish him this time. 

The belief after Sunday was these two squaring off one more time, and it looks as if that's where we're headed for Money in the Bank. The only question is whether Samoa Joe may somehow insert himself into the mix after he's already made it known he's coming for the WWE championship, but we didn't find that out for certain as Joe was absent following his clean loss to Roman Reigns at Backlash. With them playing up this Styles-Nakamura feud for so long to this point, though, it just felt odd to have nothing but quick backstage interviews for these two. Grade: C

What else happened on SmackDown?

  • Carmella is too good for Baltimore: The SmackDown women's champion repeatedly proclaimed that she once again beat Charlotte Flair before revealing she was not in attendance for SmackDown Tuesday night. She will, however, be in London next week for another celebration in her honor -- a "Royal Mellabration," to be precise. 
  • More Money in the Bank promos: Much like we saw Monday night on Raw, we were treated to more pre-recorded Money in the Bank vignettes from the likes of Asuka, Naomi, Tye Dillinger and Shelton Benjamin. 
  • No SAnitY or Andrade "Cien" Almas just yet: We'll have to wait even longer for the debut of the trio, as all we got on Tuesday night was yet another "coming soon" vignette. It was officially revealed that Almas and Zelina Vega will make their main roster debuts next week in London. 
  • Cesaro def. Xavier Woods via pinfall: Earlier in the night, Sheamus challenged his partner to do something he failed to do last week on SmackDown -- defeat Woods. Well, the Swiss member of The Bar did just that, getting the pinfall after nailing Woods with a Eurpoean uppercut as he launched himself off the ropes. 
  • Bludgeon Brothers play with toys: A backstage promo aired showing obliterated toy figurines of the SmackDown tag team division. The tag team champions then invited everyone to come play. 
  • Mandy Rose def. Becky Lynch via pinfall: Despite Sonya Deville being barred from ringside prior to the match, Rose got a clean win in her SmackDown debut on Tuesday night. After draping Lynch's throat over the top rope, Rose rolled her opponent up for what some might consider a shocking win. 

Jack joined CBS Sports in 2018 as an editor and writer covering college football, combat sports and golf. He was raised to love the New York Yankees unconditionally since birth and firmly believes a four-team... Full Bio

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